Stephen Hawking, Rocket Ships, and Cleaning the Barn”

 Truthfully, 95% of what Stephen Hawking says about the universe and cosmology, I don’t understand.  I’m sure it’s all very important.  Yesterday, Hawking said, “We have 100 years to discover a new planet or the human race is doomed. We need to find another planet.” With great respect I think the great cosmologist is wrong, we don’t need to find another planet, we need to clean up our own mess here on earth, before we go off and ruin other planets.

I would not argue with Hawking’s genius on cosmology, but as a Vermonter there are certain things I do know. I know when you need to clean the barn out.   Most Vermont barns are filled with lots of manure, a leaking roof, and rotting floor-boards.  This normal for barns. So, every time the barn needs cleaning or mending: Do we abandon it and build a new one?  Do we build a rocket ship to escape the methane? No, we clean up the mess in the barn and mend it.

I am not a Luddite, I know how to use a chain-saw, wield an ax, and use a telephone. But there are limits to technology.  Hawking suggests we devote trillions of dollars for a space race to find some distant galaxy to plant the human race.  (Wasn’t this what the movie Avatar was about, humans made a mess of earth, and then went to another planet and wanted to destroy it as well?)

In 100 year will the billions of people on Earth be herded aboard the Noah’s Ark to soar to the edge of a galaxy?  Or, will it be the select billionaires?  Who actually will be on these Noah Arks? I doubt if they can make a space ship big enough for the billions of people on Earth.  A more prudent endeavor, instead of the trillions on exotic space exploration, it make more sense to spend a few pennies and expend a little common sense.  The pennies are for prevention. The pennies are for condoms and family planning. With the earth’s population approaching 10 billion and more rapidly… the choices seem evident. Invest in family planning. Unlike the USA that gutted their contribution to international family planning, the world is drowning in people who are devouring the planet. Invest in Third World economies and help create viable futures.  To borrow a cliché – Reduce, Reuse Recycle.

If we had taken the several trillion dollars to topple Saddam Hussein and invested that money in Energy independence in the USA, we could have had solar, wind panels, hydro and all kinds of alternative renewable resources. Ironically, when Saddam Hussein was toppled and the first oil contracts purchased, it was the Chinese who gained oil, while the USA paid for the mess of the war.

In Europe they spent billions of dollars annually for these massive Large Hadron Collider whirling energies to discern the tiniest particle. Research is grand, but since we poets, according to Percy Bysshe Shelley are the unacknowledged legislators of the world…I would put that money to quality health care, housing, and education for all.  Knowing how the universe ticked and boomed may tickle a few physicists imagination, I’d rather put that money to a sustainable and viable future for all.  The imagination is staggered as I think of the trillions of dollars that are spent every year on the military and global destruction, surely this money can be better spent.

The distinguished Dr. Hawking is probably a genius, but even genius sometimes falls short of the mark. Instead of  spending tens of trillions of dollars to launch space ships to remote parts of the galaxies, where we can take over another beautiful planet and make a mess, we need to figure out how to live sustainably on the earth. Instead of building a new barn every time a cow poops in it, clean the damn mess, and mend the roof of the barn.

 

Namaya May 2016

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